WWE returned to the USA network for Monday Night Raw last night (Feb. 24, 2014) from the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, featuring the fallout show from the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view (PPV) that went down this past Sunday night in Minneapolis.
Oh and Hulk Hogan is back. And so is Undertaker. And Brock Lesnar. And we're officially on the "Road to WrestleMania".
Click here for full results and the live blog from the show if you missed it. Let's get right to reactions. Remember, these were written as the show moved along with real time reactions to everything that occurred hour-by-hour.
- Fine. When 'Real American' hit the speakers and Hulk Hogan came walking down to the ring, I allowed myself to have that moment where I stopped caring about all the reasons I'm not a fan of his and just enjoyed it for a minute. Hogan, for a really long time, WAS pro wrestling. He was the guy and there might as well have been no one else. It's 2014 and there's something wrong with his still being around, sure, but this was cool if you let it be.
- It immediately stopped being cool when Hogan started botching his lines. "This is a historic day because we're launching the WWE Universe." He recovered okay but man, this got awkward really quickly. Hogan's a good promo guy but he flubbed this one quite a bit. He also didn't really have much of anything to say and they didn't run an angle with him. He just came out, put over the Network (and screwed it up), announced his WrestleMania 30 role, and bailed. After the initial pop of his music and it being Hogan, it became obvious in a hurry why he's unnecessary in 2014.
- Michael Cole calling out JBL was good, but JBL's response was better. Commentary work is getting better.
- Following Hogan's return with a Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio is an awesome idea. Someone's definitely trolling, right? Del Rio didn't get cheered but Batista didn't either, and it's becoming increasingly clear that no one is going to give WWE what they want here. Hey, at least he bothered to point out the "Bootista" sign and it seems they're starting to acknowledge that he's not getting cheered like the babyface they want him to be. Really, what's the point of a match like this otherwise? Filling time? Batista already beat this guy multiple times. There's no point other than to continue driving the point home that fans would rather cheer for a guy they've shown time and again they couldn't care less about (Del Rio) than Batista.
- Here's how much the fans didn't care about this: They were counting along with the referee when both guys were down on the mat and were really upset when they stood up at six. That means fans actually preferred a double count out to actually watching this match. How many cities does this need to happen before WWE makes a drastic change?
- Randy Orton actually got a big pop for interrupting the match and it got an even bigger pop when Del Rio rolled Batista up and got a pinfall victory on it. This was phenomenal. Orton trolling him was even better. But at least they had Batista cut a promo acknowledging the boos and worked it into his character. He's real, you see, and everyone else is fake -- especially Orton -- and he'll just be honest and cheer the fans who cheer him and boo the fans who boo him. So, he'll boo everyone. Not quite a heel turn -- Vince doesn't believe in heels and babyfaces anymore, remember -- but he's at least no longer trying to be a clean cut good guy. So there's that.
- This segment did nothing to allay fears that Batista vs. Orton is actually going to be the WrestleMania 30 main event. It also did nothing to make anyone think Batista is worth having around. He was badly blown up after a short match where he did a lot of selling and his promo after couldn't make up for it. Put simply, he doesn't have it anymore.
- Love a Big E vs. Cesaro match because POWER. Sure enough, strong guys are strong and do strong things. I like watching strong men get strong in the ring. I feel strongly about it.
- Jack Swagger can't even interfere in a match correctly. The good news is the Real Americans are getting closer to breaking up and that means a singles run for Cesaro and if they put just a few more pieces in place, he's got a nice spot as a babyface in the same vein as a Sheamus or a Christian but with more heat for his big spots.
- Big E scared me to death the way he took that Nuetralizer. You're not supposed to get dropped on your head, big man.
- "I was listening to the Hulkster and he said something that made a lot of sense." - John Cena. Really, John? Didn't make a lot of sense to the rest of us. I do like how Cena went out and basically re-did Hogan's promo. I bet Hulk loved that. I also like how he cut a promo that sounded an awful lot like everything he was saying on the Steve Austin Show recently. Really, though, it's about time Cena assumes the role of "I'm the top dog in this here yard and if you want to make a name for yourself, I'm the guy you should be stepping to". Stay here. This is the Cena we need now. Only this and nothing more.
- Bray Wyatt calling out the name of the city they're in before saying "we're here" is new. It's a babyface thing to do, but I hope he keeps it. Believe it or not, this act can work to the good.
- Wyatt really is born and bred to be a foil to Cena. To think, if he existed in this same space back in 1990, he would have been fodder for Hogan. Instead, he's a hero killer and Cena fits the bill better than anyone. We're off to a good start. They've established the Wyatts as a power group who are a very real threat to Cena and everything he represents. Because beating Cena isn't just about beating Cena, it's about beating his message and that's why this feud is going to work so well.
- Christian vs. Sheamus was a good match but absent key outside considerations, I have a lot of trouble getting into a match between two characters I can't manage to muster a even a mild feeling for. The finish was fun, at least. Your milage may vary.
- That skit they ran on the WWE App with Daniel Bryan confronting Triple H had to be a play on the confrontation they had last year after Bryan lost feeling in his arm during a match with Randy Orton, right? Either way, Bryan made me incredibly excited for the prospect of a match between the two at WrestleMania. This is where Triple H is at his best, what with the "remember the A+ player stuff, Daniel? I'll try to find a spot for you on the card, but whatever, you're beneath me." And Bryan, who we know is better, is the hot babyface on fire who can put his foot in Triple H's egotistical ass. This made me want this match. Baffled as to why they felt like it was WWE App material, but it made TV.
- Hey, it's Dean Ambrose! The explanation for his disappearance? We didn't get one, not really. What we got was suspicion from his Shield stablemates and nothing more.
- Hey, another awesome interaction between The Shield and Wyatt Family? Hell yes! Roman Reigns challenging Bray Wyatt to a singles match? Check. Wyatt responding like only he can ("You're an interesting creature. I accept.") Check. More to come from the two best teams in WWE? Mate. Anxious to see the booking for this one, though. The way this was put together, the tease was Ambrose joined the Family but we'll see.
- Well, they gave us Daniel Bryan vs. Kane for free. So that's good, if only because it means they're not going to try to pass it off as a PPV match. Kane still working in his corporate clothes is awesome, by the way. The commentary was centered around Triple H having sent Kane to do his dirty work, so all signs point to Bryan vs. "The Game" at the biggest show of the year. As for this match, well, it was good.
- Not only do we get Bryan pinning Kane clean in the center of the ring, we get a post-match promo with Bryan calling out Triple H? Glorious. "He's a coward." Not true, even in story, but I don't mind. Bryan's got that fire, man. He's got it. So much of it. He's burning alive and we want him to burn the house down at WrestleMania in New Orleans. Give it to us. Really great set up for it and there's no doubt they're going to come through with it. My body is ready. I'm scared Bryan will have to do the job, but we'll worry about that later.
- EMMA! An EMMA match even!
- Fandango has taken a backseat to Summer Rae -- she's on Total Divas season 2 starting soon and has a WWE films role coming up -- and he's owned his new role. Frankly, he's better here than he's ever been as the feature act. And Santino as a manager for EMMA on the outside playing the cutesy role is a much better way to go.
- EMMA thrusting along with Summer tapping to the EMMA Lock.
- Ready for the New Age Outlaws to no longer take up time on my television screen on Monday nights. What wast the point of having them come out, do their intro spot, get their head kicked off, and have them pinned? There was also bad tope in there somewhere. This was dumb. Credit for the mid-air crotch top on the splash finish, but that's all.
- I think we can stop talking about Roman Reigns turning babyface now. He's pretty much alredy there. I wondered what his gimmick play to the crowd move would be when he came out on his own and he went with the old Stone Cold two arms in the air deal. Not a fan of that, but they popped, so whatever.
- Just looking at Reigns while he looks on at Wyatt during the latter's entrance, the dude just has something to him. He's got a great look, a real visceral appeal it's hard to put your hands on. He's fucking Rambo, but cooler because he doesn't need guns. Man, that's a dated reference. I'll just stop here.
- This crowd sucked. Husky Harris chants? Do you people hate fun? Do you hate good things happening in your pro wrestling? Green Bay is an awful place and this crowd reflected it.
- Wow did Reigns vs. Wyatt die out there. Not sure who put the match together but it just did not work out in front of that audience and because they responded to it the way they did, it felt like the biggest piece of shit. I imagine they ran into a time issue, like they had to kill more of it than they were supposed to originally.
- Then we get the natural progression, what with the Wyatt clan coming out to save Bray from a certain defeat they never wanted to give him because he has to move on to battle Cena. They also wanted to kind of sort of let you think Reigns won without actually letting him win, so the booking here was the typical WWE bullshit where everyone needed protecting. They also went the dumb route of having Dean Ambrose "cost" Reigns the match, technically, despite all the interference before it not getting called by the referee. This was just bad. Match was off and the booking sucked. Super disappointing considering what these six men did at Elimination Chamber.
- I love Brock Lesnar. You should love Brock Lesnar.
- Easy booking is easy: The Authority didn't want to give Lesnar a title shot at WrestleMania 30, so they gave him an open contract to fight whoever else he wanted. Well, he only wants to make history. So he declines and this brings out Undertaker and he's the history everyone wants to make. And so we have a match.
- Lesnar was afraid. His fear was the best thing about this show.
- Undertaker's goatee.
- That staredown.
- Really, everything about this was great. If there's one guy Lesnar, the big burly badass, should be afraid of it's Undertaker. That's the gimmick, after all, and "The Deadman" plays it to the fullest. We know Lesnar isn't going to break the streak but these two had an entertaining confrontation to kick the program off the right way. I'm not sure where it's going from here but I'm intrigued and that's already more than I was expecting from this.
This was good for the wrestling and had some awesome build to the major four matches at WrestleMania. There are a few complaints to be had, namely the crowd, Batista, and Hogan, but this was mostly a good show.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?